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Nobody can tell ya
There’s only one song worth singing
They may try and sell ya
Cause it hangs them up
To see someone like you…
– Mama Cass Elliott
I know what you are and you’ll never be happy being you.
If gays are granted rights, then we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes next, and then to foreigners, and to people who sleep with St. Bernard’s.
AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
Gay? It’s anything but gay. It’s a tragedy and a very sad and lonely life. It’s deviant and against God and nature. It’s a part of Satan. Being a homosexual and living that life is anything but gay.
The first time I heard it all was from my father. I was very young. He told me if I continued down this ‘path’ my life would be miserable and unhappy. I would never belong anywhere. He said he’d known ‘guys like me’ in the military, and that my life would be filled with shame. He slapped me across my face and ear, leaving me crying and confused. I didn’t really understand. All I understood was that to be me was wrong and that being me, I was doomed to unhappiness.
Wanting to please I listened to the other boys at school and tried to mimic their interests. Sports, hunting, cars. But those things didn’t grab me. Pretending to be interested in them left me unhappy, and guiltily aware that I was faking. Singing, drawing, reading Vogue Magazine. That made me happy. That felt real, felt authentic.
Authentic. At the time, I only had a glimmering sense of what that meant and how transformative it is to be authentic and true to yourself. In high school, I finally realized that pleasing my father would be impossible. I realized that trying to live your life pleasing others doesn’t bring happiness. But I kept trying anyway.
And in a terrible cosmic boomerang, pretending only ended up hurting many people who didn’t deserve it. People I cared about. In trying to please them, I only ended up building walls as shaky as Jericho’s. I was hurting myself and hurting people I loved. And soon enough, those hollowed-out walls of lies began crumbling down.
Coming out was difficult. So difficult. But so necessary. The truth of who I really was.
I had all the textbook fears. I was terrified that my family and friends would no longer love me. And when you come out, there is nearly always someone you find you have to leave behind. Someone who is hurt by truth, someone who feels betrayed. Someone you care for who can’t handle it. There isn’t anything more horrible than hurting someone who’s done nothing but love you.
By the time I connected the dots and realized that I was gay, all the voices of despair, bondage, and the dreaded unhappiness came at me full force. I heard my father’s voice condemning me and ‘my kind’ to loneliness and isolation. I had to steel myself to shut down that voice in my head. Because I knew the real truth. I knew that above everything, I wanted commitment. I wanted to grow old and share my life with one man. I knew that would make me truly happy. And somewhere, I knew, that it was possible. No, more than possible – it was how it should and would be. Love. It belongs to everyone and everyone deserves it. Even me.
Coming out thirty-five years ago…Back then the voices belonged to the Anita Bryants and the Jerry Falwells. Today those voices belong to people like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. Everyone has and is entitled to their beliefs. But when those beliefs extend to hate and perpetuate shame, those beliefs must be countered. They must be pushed aside by love and pride and justice. When someone’s message is “I hold the real truth and unless you follow it, you will be unhappy, you will be ostracized, you will be less than a full human being” then they truly are doing the dark work of hate. If their message is that “unless you are like me, believe as I do, and live as I do, then you will be invisible” then they are nothing but false messengers of a dying past. I refute their shame. I no longer listen to those voices. Their message has no place in my personal world. It has no place in the world – for anyone.
In the BIG picture there is room for us all. There is love for us all. There is happiness, and community, and acceptance, and celebration, and at long last, there is JOY. And if you find it at 15 or 30 or 80 – it is there for you to find. Find your truth. Be authentic. Shout out loud.
As for me? Here I am at 56, crazy in love with my husband with whom I’ve shared my life with for 27 years. I’m not only happy. I’m whole. I’ve got much to celebrate.
You’re never too old to ‘Toss Glitter’.